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RPT-FOCUS-Advertisers shun coronavirus coverage, hastening news media battle for survival

1 hour 43 minutes ago
From Rupert Murdoch's News UK to McClatchy's chain of local newspapers across the United States, news publishers are attracting record numbers of readers as people in lockdown seek information about the coronavirus pandemic. Total local advertising in the United States could decline by up to 30% this year, or $38 billion, according to media research firm Borrell Associates. Publishers, advertising agencies and tech firms that help place ads have been trying to persuade brands to rethink, arguing that by eschewing coronavirus coverage, advertisers are losing access to engaged readers.

Apple's stock price target raised at Instinet, but analyst expresses 'angst' over neutral rating

2 hours 11 minutes ago
Shares of Apple Inc. gained 0.6% in morning trading Thursday, after Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal raised his price target, saying a bullish view based the technology giant's "robust" ecosystem, multiple expansion and a "strong" balance sheet holds merit. He kept his rating at neutral, however, as "a looming recession and inflated supercycle expectations sufficiently undermine the bull case to restrain our rating to neutral." Meanwhile, Kvaal said the COVID-19 pandemic's ability to "rapidly shift pressure points on Apple," from supply, to near-term demand to long-term macroeconomic concerns, "has scrambled our investment view and heightened our already elevated angst over our neutral view." He cut his fiscal 2020 earnings-per-share estimate to $12.38 from $13.20--the FactSet consensus is $12.61--and his 2021 EPS outlook to $13.86 from $15.35. The stock has lost 8.8% year to date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has declined 16.7%.

Baidu suspends updating content on certain channels, as result of regulator directives

2 hours 33 minutes ago
Baidu Inc. said Thursday has suspended updating content on certain newsfeed channels within Baidu App and conduct maintenance, starting April 8, following directives from government regulators. The China-based internet search giant said the suspension could have an impact on marketing services revenue. The move follows reports that China's cyberspace regulator said some of Baidu's reviews of news feed channels weren't strict, and therefore had a bad influence on society. Baidu said other measures it's taking to comply with regulator directives include monitoring and management over its platform, strengthening the integrity and quality of content and improving business practices. The stock rose 0.8% in premarket trading. It has lost 23.0% year to date, while the S&P 500 has dropped 14.9%.

Demand for video calling continues to surge, Microsoft and others say

2 hours 45 minutes ago
Microsoft said that video calls on Teams, which competes with apps such as Slack Technologies Inc and Zoom Video Communications Inc, were up 1,000% in the month of March, but did not give an absolute figure. The company said the proportion of meetings and calls that included video more than doubled to 43% from 21% over the month of March. Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365 at the company, said Microsoft's data showed video use interspersed throughout the workday.

‘It’s Just Like Ticketmaster’: Playing the Delivery Slot Lottery During Covid-19

2 hours 48 minutes ago
(Bloomberg) -- Cara McIlwaine recently lost her marketing job due to the economic collapse wrought by the coronavirus. Finding a new gig at the moment isn't easy, and it doesn't help that she's had to spend just as much time lately on another essential project -- securing an online grocery delivery slot. For four days last month, McIlwaine, who has a toddler at home, tried and failed to secure a delivery time from Fresh Direct Inc., resorting to obscure Reddit forums to discern the time when new slots came available. The screen listing available delivery windows would invariably freeze, and when it came back, everything was taken.“It’s just like Ticketmaster,” she said. “I genuinely don’t think I will ever get a time again.”Across the country, millions of consumers are turning to Fresh Direct, Instacart Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Peapod and other services to fill their fridges via online delivery rather than brave going to a supermarket. But many are finding that the online grocery networks have been completely knocked flat by a triple whammy of unprecedented demand, unreliable inventory and unavailable employees. While early reports from the pandemic suggested that shuttered stores and shut-in consumers would be a boon for e-commerce, the sudden growth spurt has grocers scrambling to soothe harried shoppers and worried whether disgruntled first-time web shoppers will go back online once the crisis passes.“Everyone is struggling,” said Brendan Witcher, a digital strategy analyst at Forrester Research. “Supply chains are designed to not break from a single incident, but now multiple incidents are hitting all at once and that has caused a breakdown. People in the industry know the reasons, but the average consumer does not know why there is a problem. All they know is this is a bad experience.”Fresh Direct said in a social media posting that it’s “working around the clock” to fill orders but it has many fewer employees. “An easy solution is not in sight,” it said. Before the pandemic, online shoppers accounted for about 5% of the $800 billion U.S. grocery market, with most online orders going to Walmart, Instacart and Amazon. The social-distancing era could easily double that, some analysts thought.  A survey from RBC Capital found that more than a third of those who have shopped for groceries online over the past month were doing so for the first time.Such rosy projections, though, don’t square with the angst-ridden reality many people now face. Nearly one in three Americans surveyed by market researcher CivicScience on April 6 said they had a problem with a recent online order. That explains why the likelihood that a shopper will use a specific service again plummeted from 74% in August to 43% in March, according to Brick Meets Click, a retail sales and marketing firm.Take Steve Faktor, who runs an innovation consultancy in New York. He’s a big fan of Trader Joe’s, but the quirky chain doesn't deliver in New York City anymore and Faktor could do without the long queues and masks. So he tried Fresh Direct, only to be stymied by a dearth of delivery slots.“People like me are searching for options right now,” he said. “I know times are challenging, but it’s a missed opportunity for them.”Mason Kalfus, a 44-year-old legal recruiter in Washington, D.C., has taken to shopping at Fresh Direct, Amazon and occasionally Peapod or Instacart.  “All of the services now are a disaster,” he says, ticking off his grievances. He’s annoyed at Amazon, which fulfills some online orders through its Whole Foods Market chain, for allowing him to fill an entire cart when there were no delivery slots available, “so I just wasted all that time.”Fresh Direct — which doesn’t operate any stores and delivers from warehouses along the East Coast — earned his ire for not communicating what items in his basket were out of stock until he submitted his order, like the low-sodium imported lacey swiss cheese. So instead of  $100 of groceries, he ended up with just $23 worth. Kalfus is one of many shoppers hedging their slot bets, downloading multiple apps and refreshing order pages at all hours of the day in the hopes that a precious window will open. Downloads of Walmart’s grocery app rose 164% over the past five weeks, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg, while the number of active shoppers on Instacart’s platform has grown from 200,000 to more than 350,000. “The customer demand we expected over  the next two-to-four years has happened on the Instacart platform in the last two-to-four weeks,” CEO Apoorva Mehta said. Traffic to Peapod, which is owned by the U.S. subsidiary of European grocer Ahold Delhaize, has risen as much as fivefold on certain days recently, e-commerce chief J.J. Fleeman said in an interview.But all that traffic means little if customers can’t buy anything -- delivery slots for Peapod in some high-demand zip codes are sold out for two weeks, Fleeman said, so it’s adding drivers and has ordered several thousand new wrist-mounted mobile devices that help associates fulfill orders.Walmart has compressed its window of pickup slots from one week to two or three days to ease the burden on its more than 40,000 online order-pickers and reduce the potential for out-of-stock items. Instacart has introduced a service called “Fast and Flexible” whereby customers can get orders picked by the next available Instacart shopper, rather than schedule it for a specific window.  While some shoppers say they sympathize, others are not so kind, and conspiracy theories now abound on social media and Reddit forums about nefarious delivery algorithms, along with accusations that online grocers are giving longtime users short shrift to lure new customers on board. It doesn’t help that some workers at Instacart and Shipt, a delivery service owned by Target Corp. that delivers to its customers and those of other retailers, have walked off the job to protest what they claim are unsafe working conditions.  Some intrepid web developers have even created browser extensions -- bots, basically -- that will scour delivery slots and ping you when one opens up.Kelly Caruso, Shipt's CEO, said the company will supply safety kits with gloves and hand sanitizer to those who pick groceries in high-risk areas. Instacart said it "absolutely" respects the rights of workers to voice their concerns.Some smaller grocers are going old school to keep shoppers happy. Caputo’s, a chain of seven supermarkets in the Chicago suburbs, had to suspend home deliveries when it got too busy. But when an elderly person who’s a good customer called, Matt Idstein, the company’s e-commerce director, took her order, found her items in the aisles, threw the bags in his own car and dropped it all off at her house. “She thought I was just a new delivery driver,” Idstein says. “She really had no idea.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Baidu Takes Measures to Comply with Government Directives

2 hours 52 minutes ago
Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU) ("Baidu" or the "Company"), a leading search engine, knowledge and information centered Internet platform and AI company, today announced that pursuant to directives of relevant PRC regulators, Baidu has suspended updating its content on certain newsfeeds channels within Baidu App and conduct maintenance, beginning from April 8, 2020. The Company expects that the suspension may have impact on the marketing services revenue related to the suspended channels.

Sony invests $400 million in Chinese video site Bilibili

2 hours 55 minutes ago
Chinese video site Bilibili will receive $400 million equity investment from Sony Corp America, Bilibili said Thursday, as the two companies seek to further collaborate in entertainment to attract China's Gen Z. SCA, wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corp, will subscribe for 17,310,696 newly issued Class Z ordinary shares of Bilibili at $23.1071 per share, Bilibili said. Upon closing, SCA will beneficially own approximately 4.98% of Bilibili's total issued shares, with a lock-up period of six months, it added.

Journal Profile: Austin developer known for working with Apple shares his secrets to success

3 hours 3 minutes ago
In this week's Journal Profile — which always aim to teach you more about professionals than you can find on LinkedIn — we focus on Joe Llamas. He's well-known for being Apple’s real estate developer in Austin. Just don’t ask him to talk about the tech giant. He can’t even speak Apple’s name. "I try to find projects where I can partner with the land seller. I try to figure out ways to make them money on top of just a land sale, if they have an interest in doing that."

Britain's Easter egg hunt moves online as coronavirus curbs visits

3 hours 8 minutes ago
With big family gatherings off limits, friends and relatives are unable to meet and hand over Easter egg treats, and chocolate makers' online sites are struggling to keep up with exceptionally high demand for deliveries by this weekend. Easter eggs are on sale in shops but those customers who do venture out have been focused more on stocking up on basics such as pasta and tinned food. Creme egg maker Cadbury, owned by U.S. group Mondelez , said demand for its eggs in stores was lower than usual this year but traffic on its website had surged five-fold.

Venzee Announces Significant Increase in Revenue Generating Work Orders due to COVID-19 Supply Chain Distress

3 hours 18 minutes ago
As a result, the Company has a clear path to improved profitability, as work orders convert to revenue-generating integrations with retailers Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), Mercado Libre (MELI), Lowe's Companies (LOW), Wayfair Inc. (NYSE:W), The Home Depot (HD), and others previously announced by the Company. The Company continues to win new business through its expanding channel partner base including, but not limited to, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with over $40B USD in revenue; a global power tools company with $12B USD in revenue; a health and wellness company with over $400M USD in revenue, and; one of the largest energy companies in the world with over $250B USD in annual revenue.
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1 hour 13 minutes ago
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